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Standing cross in St Lawrence's churchyard, Stoak

A Scheduled Monument in Stoak, Cheshire West and Chester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2532 / 53°15'11"N

Longitude: -2.8656 / 2°51'55"W

OS Eastings: 342348.193502

OS Northings: 373261.781502

OS Grid: SJ423732

Mapcode National: GBR 8ZFT.DJ

Mapcode Global: WH881.YHMC

Entry Name: Standing cross in St Lawrence's churchyard, Stoak

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016856

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30400

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Stoak

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Ellesmere Port Team

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes the remains of a medieval standing cross in the
churchyard of St Lawrence's Church, Stoak. The cross, which is Listed Grade
II, has been broken off half-way up the shaft and a sundial set onto the top.
The base is a single massive block of local sandstone, square and measuring
0.72m wide and 0.2m high above the turf. The socket is square and 0.35m wide
into which is set the lower part of a shaft, square at the base, rising to
octagonal through darts carved at the corners. The shaft stands 1.25m high and
a sundial plate has been inserted in the broken top. The gnomon is missing.
A plate has been set into the north side commemorating churchwardens John
Cheers and Dick Kinsey. A hole drilled into the shaft on the south side may
have supported another plaque.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The standing cross in St Lawrence's churchyard is reasonably well preserved
despite its later conversion into a sundial.

Source: Historic England

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